Imagine you’re speeding along the freeway, wrestling with traffic and obnoxious drivers. Then, bang, a brilliant notion flashes into your brain. You’ve solved your plot problem. Or perhaps a new tune comes to you out of the ether. The perfect drawing, enshrined in simple lines and subtle shading.
What can you do about it? It’s not like you can halt in the middle of the freeway and start to work. Yet it seems that the best ideas always visit us in the most inappropriate times.
It has something to do with the creative process. Your muse is not a nine-to-five worker. Nor does she work on commission or do factory assembly lines. No, she’s the part of your brain that generates all sorts of crazy thoughts. Yet this freeform idea generation is often shut down by the practical side of our minds.
How often do we tell ourselves… That won’t work. Or that a certain idea is too far fetched. No wonder our muse keeps her mouth shut. You would too if someone kept shooting down your ideas.
Yet when we’re in a situation where we can’t jot the idea down, like taking a shower, that’s when the what-if generator inside us comes alive. Because it knows you don’t have the means to criticize.
I find this happens to me a lot. The most off-the-wall ideas come to me while I’m in a situation where I can’t write it down. I once got an idea for a new book while lying on the acupuncture table, my neck and shoulders prickling with needles. You can be sure that when I got to the car afterward, I scribbled down what I could remember. But it never seemed as magical as the moment I first dreamt it.
What is the most inconvenient situation you’ve been in where the muse has visited?
To this day, I keep pads of paper squirreled away for just such flashes of inspiration. I have a notepad in my car and will be seen furiously scrawling words at a red light. I even have a pad and pen next to the shower, though the notes tend to be a little soggy.
My best advice is to cultivate these moments. These are pure imagination and creativity visiting you. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Accept what the muse will give and then dash to your paper and jot down what she has to say.
Your muse will be happier and so will you.